Thailand to develop five sites as quality tourist destinations

Five sites have been pinpointed by Thai Tourism Ministry to be developed as quality destinations as part of a rebranding plan aimed at boosting high-spending tourists.

"Each of the cities will get rebranding and repositioning based on their uniqueness and strength as well as their main target market," Tourism Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul said last week.

The five sites are Bangkok, Phuket, Pattaya, Koh Pha-ngan and Nan.

Bangkok will be presented as a destination for world heritage river cruises, which will complement other activities such as shopping, dining, weekend getaways, and history and culture appreciation.

Pattaya, which is now stereotyped as a nightlife and beach resort city, will be refocused as a world-class sports and family destination.

Koh Pha-ngan, host of a popular full moon party, will be turned into a Thai-style party central. The idea is to attract foreigners to come and experience more Thainess.

In Phuket, premium cruising and MICE (meeting, incentive, convention, and exhibition) businesses are targeted besides sun-tanning and diving.

The famous Nan province in the North, where tourists love to flock to during the winter, is set to become an eco-tourism magnet focused on biking and also ageing tourism.

Tourists aged over 50 are the main target for the province as Nan is a quiet town with natural beauty and a slow pace of life. The province is also a safe town for visitors as well as locals.

Many of Nan's historic attractions have been preserved or restored. A walk around the town can feel like taking a trip back in time to the 14th century.

Last year, Nan welcomed nearly 500,000 visitors, of whom 70 per cent were Thais and 30 per cent foreigners, mostly Europeans, Koreans and Japanese. The peak period falls in the cool season.

Kobkarn said if officials can achieve rebranding and repositioning of all five cities by next year as planned, it would not only raise their image as a quality destination but also attract quality tourists and make them want to extend their stay.

Last year, the average length of stay in Thailand was 9.8 days, the longest in ASEAN. Spending per head per trip was also at the top level in the region at US$1,400 (S$1,828) or 42,000 baht (S$1,672).